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GCR Books

March 28 1931: Arsenal head for their first league title

On February 5th 1931 Arsenal beat Leicester City away 7-2.  Lambert got a hat-trick.  That win took the club back to the top of the First Division, where they had been for much of the season, and a position at which they stayed for the remainder of 1930/31, thus winning their first ever league title.

On 28 March Lambert again got a hat-trick in the 5-2 away win at Middlesbrough.  It was part of an nine match unbeaten run that took Arsenal through to the end of the season.

Jack Lambert played 34 league games that season, all at number 9, and scored an astonishing 38 goals.

I’ve already published a review of the centre forwards the Herbert Chapman used – and from that you can see that Jack Lambert really just had this one great season.   A full review of his life at Arsenal has also been published on this site.

1930/31 was in fact Jack Lambert’s year all the way through.  Arsenal won their first five games of the season, during which he scored eight goals.

But to move away from Jack Lambert just for a moment, it is perhaps interesting to look at the league table on this day.

P W D L F A GA Pt
1 Arsenal 35 23 8 4 111 54 2.06 54
2 Aston Villa 36 21 9 6 114 65 1.75 51
3 Sheffield Wednesday 35 19 6 10 88 65 1.35 44
4 Derby County 34 16 9 9 80 63 1.27 41
5 Portsmouth 35 15 10 10 71 61 1.16 40
6 Manchester City 36 16 8 12 66 62 1.06 40
7 Huddersfield Town 35 15 9 11 72 60 1.20 39
8 Liverpool 35 14 10 11 78 69 1.13 38
9 Middlesbrough 36 16 6 14 80 74 1.08 38
10 Blackburn Rovers 36 14 8 14 74 72 1.03 36
11 Newcastle United 35 15 4 16 71 73 0.97 34
12 Chelsea 35 13 8 14 57 59 0.97 34
13 Sheffield United 35 12 9 14 69 67 1.03 33
14 West Ham United 35 13 6 16 71 77 0.92 32
15 Grimsby Town 36 14 4 18 69 80 0.86 32
16 Leicester City 35 14 4 17 70 83 0.84 32
17 Sunderland 35 11 9 15 76 79 0.96 31
18 Birmingham City 35 10 9 16 50 65 0.77 29
19 Bolton Wanderers 35 10 9 16 52 71 0.73 29
20 Blackpool 35 10 8 17 61 106 0.57 28
21 Leeds United 36 10 5 21 60 75 0.80 25
22 Manchester United 36 5 6 25 41 101 0.41 16

This was of course very much the era of two points for a win, one for a draw.  Arsenal in the end won the league by seven points from Villa, although Villa did have one moment of glory that season, beating Arsenal 5-1 at Villa Park on March 14th.

Goodness knows what Chapman said to his players, as they had not lost in their seven previous games, but whatever was said, it worked.

Arsenal actually won the league on April 18, with two games to spare, by beating Liverpool at Highbury 3-1, although the crowd was only 39,143.  The final home game, a victory over Bolton only saw 35,406 turn up.  Arsenal’s top home crowd that season was 56,417 for the game against Chelsea, who were the big local rivals that year, there being no Tottenham H in the top league.

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